With an increase in the volume of data generated every day, information security has become a key concern for every organization. This is especially important for companies that work with third-party vendors. If network security and application providers mishandle a company’s data, it can leave the company vulnerable to attacks, like malware installation, data theft, and extortion.
System and Organizational Controls (SOC) 2 is an auditing procedure through which a company can ensure that its data is securely managed by service providers. This ensures that their client’s privacy and interests are protected. If you have a service organization, you need a SOC 2 report that will show your stakeholders that your IT controls can secure the provided service. This is not a certification. Having a clean SOC 2 report means that the auditor agrees with your assertion to control design and operation.
In this SOC 2 guide, we have created a detailed SOC 2 compliance checklist that will help ensure that you get a pass on the report:
1. Set clear objectives
Service providers like you handle customer data for other enterprises. SOC 2 compliance can strengthen your reputation, stability, and financial statements. To do this, you need to work on improving your internal controls and document and evaluate every step. The SOC 2 report will detail out your system controls. This includes how you ensure the privacy and security of data while processing it.
While you are working on SOC 2 compliance, you need to set the objectives clearly. This should include vendor management programs, oversight of the company, regulatory oversight, risk management processes, and internal corporate governance. It should meet the needs of all the users who want assurance about your company’s controls. These users can be customers, managers, suppliers, and business partners. You have to determine what you will be testing for and the reason behind it.
2. Select the right report
Depending on what your objectives and SOC 2 compliance requirements are, you can either opt for SOC Type 1 and Type 2 reports. Let’s understand what each of those reports entails:
SOC 2 Type 1
This report covers the description of your organization’s system and how well it is suited for the service you provide. Consider this as a snapshot taken of your system at a certain time.
SOC 2 Type 2
This report also covers the description of your organization’s system and how well it is suited for the service you provide, along with your system’s controls’ operating effectiveness. This report covers your system over a certain period of time and not just a moment.
As you might have understood from the description above, Type 1 reports can be created quickly and efficiently. For the Type 2 report, your SOC 2 controls list will be rigorously examined for a longer duration.
3. Select the right trust service principles
When a business is considering hiring a SaaS provider, SOC compliance is a necessity. When it comes to SOC 2’s compliance requirements, there are five trust service principles that must be focused on:
The systems and information should be available for use and operation.
All your systems and information should be protected against unauthorized information disclosure, access, and damage that might compromise its integrity, privacy, confidentiality, and availability.
If your organization collects personal information, it should be disclosed, retained, and disposed of properly.
Your systems should be set up in place in a way that ensures that confidential information is protected.
Your company’s system process must be valid, complete, authorized, timely, and accurate.
You need to work with your clients and customers on identifying the principles that you have to test for. It’s your responsibility to figure out what principles are closely related to the concerns your customers might have. For example, if your job doesn’t involve processing data for clients, the principle of processing integrity might not be applicable. However, if your service involves managing transactions, processing integrity is crucial.
4. Combine SOC 2 with other compliance initiatives
In some industries, SOC 2 controls might overlap with other requirements. For example, if you provide service to the healthcare industry, SOC 2 should be performed in accordance with HITRUST and HIPAA compliance. In the financial sector, you have to focus on combining SOC 2 with PCI DSS compliance. By doing this, you can make your operations efficient and affordable.
5. Assess your situation
When you are getting a SOC 2 audit, it might seem overwhelming, especially if you are going through the audit for the first time. There are so many controls to select and documentation requirements to fulfill. You can start by taking a look at the control framework of your organization and figuring out if there are any gaps in it. Determine the procedures and policies that you have before the audit begins. This way, you will know what you have to do in order to pass the tests associated with the SOC 2 audit.
The SOC 2 report ensures your clients that your services meet the required technical as well as ethical standards. You can use the above-mentioned SOC 2 audit checklist to make sure that you are prepared for the audit. By securing SOC 2 compliance, you can gain confidence and trust with your clients and ensure your success.